Professor of Legal Writing Barbara S. Barron is a regular on Japanese television. “The last time I was in Japan, I was in a convenience store and a woman came up to me and said she had seen me on a national news network show,” said Barron who has appeared on the nationalNippon Television Network (NTV) for her trial advocacy training in Japan.
Barron was one of only four U.S. attorneys asked to participate in the first national trial advocacy training program for criminal defense attorneys in Tokyo. The Japan Federation of Bar Associations developed the program to train attorneys in American/Anglo trial advocacy skills so they are prepared for the switch to the mixed judge/citizen jury system “Saiban-in” that begins January 2009. The NTV show included interviews with Barron about her trainings.
In December 2008, Barron will hit the airwaves again in a one-hour documentary on NHK, the “PBS of Japan.” The documentary focuses on the U.S. jury system and the jury’s involvement in determining sentencing for death penalty cases.
“My hope is that the Japanese citizenry understands that the jury system is an important tool in the administration of justice,” said Barron. “Japanese citizens are concerned that they will not be able to evaluate the evidence and sit as fact finders for the peers. The NHK documentary should allay those concerns and instill enthusiasm and interest in the Saiban-in.”
Kaoru Emura, an NHK producer, selected Barron for the film because of “the professor’s extraordinary work in Japan,” she said. Emura sought an expert from Hofstra Law School after hearing about Professor Eric M. Freedman’s scholarship on capital cases.
In November, NHK videographers will descend on Long Island to interview Barron and film Hofstra Law students working with elementary school children as part of our Mock Trial Enrichment Program. “NHK would like to film our students as they teach the children about the jury system, train the children in trial advocacy and then film the trials the children conduct at the end of the program,” Barron said.
In October 2008, Barron returned to Tokyo to participate in the second such program and to deliver the keynote address. In both programs, more than 100 lawyers were trained. Barron has been invited to return to Japan in January 2009 to participate in another program in Osaka.
The switch to the jury system will be a significant change in the country’s criminal justice system. “At present, there is no lay jury participation for felony cases. The Saiban-in system will introduce a six-member ordinary citizen component to the present three-judge system. The six members will sit with the judges, hear the evidence, deliberate and decide the case,” said Barron.